No Change Endings
The most obvious question is: if the ending doesn’t change at all, how do we know the word is plural? There is an important thing in language-learning called context.
by Brendan Bense
April 10, 2019
Sometimes in English, things are easier than they appear. In our fourth episode, we’re dealing with nouns that do not change their endings to become plural. The most obvious question is: if the ending doesn’t change at all, how do we know the word is plural? There is an important thing in language-learning called context. Use what you know to figure out what you don’t! Often, when we use context to figure out plurals, we look at the base word. Since the following rule deals with endings that do not change, we simply must investigate the rest of the sentence to figure out what the noun means.
Some nouns do not change when you make them plural. Many of these are names for animals.
This rule looks pretty easy, and it should be considering the title of this episode. While there are very few nouns that follow this rule, the ones that do are worth mentioning! If you see a noun being referred to as plural, yet it is spelled the same as the singular, it probably is following this rule. A pretty popular example would be the word “music”. Musics is not something we would use as English speakers, because music is something we call a mass noun. You can choose to look at mass nouns as either existing in the plural form forever, or them not having plurals at all! Another good example would be the word “time”. We don’t really quantify time or music as being countable in most circumstances. If we ask, “what’s your favorite music?” we assume that music includes all different types. We infer that music is essentially plural.
Mass nouns sneak themselves into English fairly often, but they aren’t the only subject of today’s first rule. Let’s look at some regular examples. If you are in a field and see a fluffy sheep, you would say so to your friend. However, what if you saw two? No, you wouldn’t say sheeps. You’d leave the word as is, and say two sheep! Unfortunately, there is no precise way to figure out which endings can stay the same. So the more you read, the more you’ll find out these plurals on your own!
Since there are no perfect ways to spot these “no change” endings, we’d be happy to list the most common ones you’ll find! Fish, series, species, and deer all keep the same exact form when they change to plural. It can be a bit confusing to notice these nouns as plural, so that is why context is so important! Consider this sentence: “I saw a deer in the backyard.” We know that deer is singular, because the phrase “a” shows there is just one. What if we changed the sentence? “I saw six deer in the backyard.” Now we know that deer is plural, because of the quantifier six.
The above is an easy example, but just remember to keep your wits about you when you think you’re dealing with these tricky plurals. The endings may not change, but that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down!
No change endings are pretty tricky, because you don’t have to do anything to them! It may seem tempting to just add an -s to make things plural, but that just isn’t the case for this rule! We bet you got the hang of it, but if not, you can always go back to reread and study the examples in detail. Why not test your skills with our deck on No Change Endings? FactSumo’s deck is designed with the student in mind: hone your skills, practice your weaknesses, and feel confident in plural endings! FactSumo is here to help with all your studying needs.
Feeling really confident? Good! That means the fifth episode, Irregular Endings, is just a click away! Why don’t you head there now to see what’s in store for you? If you don’t think you’re ready to continue, no pressure! We want you to learn at your own pace. Either way, see you soon on FactSumo!